Marijuana Lollipop May Have Triggered Man’s Heart Attack
Marijuana Lollipop May Have Triggered Man’s Heart Attack.
Medical marijuana is used to treat a variety of issues, from chronic pain and migraines to severe nausea and seizures. But can it help save your life during a heart attack?
And also, according to some reports in 2018, medical researchers observed sudden heart problems in people who had smoked marijuana has raised concerns about its safety, especially as more states legalize the drug for medical and recreational use.
Many of the reports involved only one or a few patients, such as the otherwise healthy 21-year-old U.K. man who was a regular marijuana smoker and who suffered a heart attack due to a blood clot in one of the arteries in his heart.
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The doctors were able to rule out the possibility that the heart attack was caused by atherosclerosis, or a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Another report looked at these three people who needed to be revived with CPR when they developed heart problems after smoking pot.
In a larger study in France, published this year in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers identified 35 cases of cardiovascular complications, amounting to 1.8 percent of all serious side effects from cannabis use reported to a government database. Nine of the patients died.
But recently, researchers are doing some rigorous finding to know if marijuana lollipop with a very high dose of the drug’s active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may have triggered a man’s heart attack, according to a new report of the man’s case.
The 70-year-old man decided to try edible marijuana to see if it would reduce the pain from his osteoarthritis and help him sleep. The man had smoked some marijuana in his youth, but had never tried an edible product, according to the report, which was published (Feb. 11) in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
One night, the man consumed nearly an entire marijuana lollipop, which contained a staggering 90 milligrams of THC, more than 12 times the dose in a typical joint.
Within a half hour, the man experienced “fearful hallucinations,” followed by “crushing chest pain,” the report said.
The man was taken to the hospital, where doctors determined that he had had a heart attack. The patient had a known history of heart disease, but he was taking several medications for his condition, and had not experienced a heart problem for more than two years.
It appears that the large dose of THC placed a “sudden and unexpected strain” on the man’s body that may have triggered his heart attack, the report’s authors wrote. The high dose led to hallucinations and anxiety, which in turn increased his heart rate, blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone catecholamine, all of which are known to have harmful effects on the heart, they wrote.
With the increased legalization of marijuana — the drug is now legal for recreational uses in Canada and several U.S. states — the report’s authors say people should be aware that marijuana, like all drugs, may sometimes pose health risks.
What Linked Marijuana to Heart Problems?
According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 18.9 million people in the U.S. had used marijuana. Even if just one percent of those people experienced cardiovascular effects after lighting up, that is still many thousands of potential problems.
Marijuana does have some documented effects on the cardiovascular system, including increasing the heart rate by as much as 100 percent, an effect that can last for up to three hours. Also, certain groups of people may be more at risk for cardiovascular problems from smoking marijuana.
In another study, researchers was able to discover that “patients who have other risk factors for heart and vascular disease are at higher risk for complications from marijuana ingestion,“ so folks who are older, folks who have diabetes or high blood pressure or high cholesterol, folks who also smoke cigarettes — the typical risk factors for heart attack and stroke.”
in 2014, doctors reported the case of a young man in the United Kingdom who also had a heart attack after smoking marijuana. Still, a review study published last year concluded that there is currently not enough scientific evidence available to determine marijuana’s effect on the risk of heart problems.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Neal Benowitz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote that marijuana might pose heart risks in three ways: Through the inhalation of smoke from marijuana, through the direct effect of THC on the cardiovascular system, or through indirect effects of THC related to anxiety and hallucinations, as in the current case.
Benowitz said there isn’t evidence available to answer this question. But he said that for patients with heart disease who want to use marijuana, he would recommend products that contain only the compound cannabidiol (CBD), which does not have psychoactive effects like THC. And if patients want to use marijuana for the effects of THC, Benowitz said he would advise patients not to smoke the products (to reduce exposure to smoke), and would recommend the smallest dose that produces the desired benefit.
Benowitz noted that some edible products may contain multiple “servings” of THC, as was the case with the patient’s marijuana lollipop. In this case, just a few licks of the 90 mg THC lollipop might have provided an appropriate starting dose, he said.
Shortly after his heart attack, the man said he had trouble doing some daily tasks and wasn’t able to exert himself as much as before. His doctors advised him not to consume such a high dose of THC in the future.